First Issue: USAGI YOJIMBO Volume 1, Issue 12
Comics Which Contain This Story
This story can be found in the following comics:
The following characters are mentioned in the story:
Lord Noriyuki prepares to give a gift to the Shogun - a blade made by the famous swordsmith Muramasa. Security has doubled, but this does not stop Shingen, a skilled Neko Ninja, from infiltrating the castle. Hiding in the roof and eavesdropping upon a conversation between Lord Noriyuki and Tomoe Ame, Shingen is caught unawares by Tomoe's vigilance and is stabbed through the leg by her Yari. in true super-feline fashion, he remains silent and wipes the blade as it is withdrawn and so remains undetected.
When Tomoe and Lord Noriyuki leave the room, the Muramasa blade is left unattended and it is a simple if not painful process for Shingen to steal it and escape. Killing a guard in the process, the theft is almost immediately discovered and the castle alerted. Nonetheless, Shingen escapes.
While searching for the thief, Tomoe stumbles across Usagi and tells him of the theft and the wounded ninja before riding off leaving him pondering. Attracted to a fire, Usagi discovers quite by accident the thief now disguised as a woodcutter, the Muramasa safely hidden within the wooden bundles. Joining him, Usagi's suspicion is piqued when the woodcutter becomes defensive over his wounded leg, then sneaks off after Usagi has appeared to go to sleep. Usagi plagues Shingen the next day, following him first into the border town where all persons leaving are being searched. Shingen's plans are further upset when he encounters a pair of real woodcutters that contradict his story.
After nightfall, Shingen finally escapes and makes his way across the river floating on his wooden bundles. Amazingly, he runs into Usagi once more and decides to do away with the meddlesome samurai once and for all. Shingen soon discovers that Usagi is a match for him and makes good his escape with the blade. Once safe, he checks the blade to make sure it is safe and discovers he escaped with a piece of wood wrapped in silk. Usagi did not have the blade with him, whatever could have happened to it?